The man responsible for shooting Kate Steinle will walk free after a stunning reversal in his conviction.
According to Fox News, A California state appeals court Friday overturned the lone conviction against an undocumented immigrant who shot and killed Kate Steinle on the San Francisco waterfront in 2015, a case which drew national attention and became a flashpoint in the debate over illegal immigration.
Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, who was in the U.S. illegally had been deported to his native Mexico five times, was acquitted in November 2017 of first and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semi-automatic weapon. He was convicted of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned that conviction on Friday because the judge failed to give the jury the option of acquitting Garcia-Zarate on the notion that he only possessed the weapon for a moment.
Prosecutors argued that the jury instruction lapse was harmless because Garcia-Zarate admitted firing the gun and experts said he couldn’t do so without pulling the trigger. The court disagreed, saying the jury’s verdict showed they rejected the prosecution theory that the shooting was intentional or even negligent and they had asked the judge to define possession and whether there was a time requirement for possession.
“These questions go to the heart of the momentary possession defense,” Justice Sandra Margulies wrote in the 3-0 decision. “The fact the jury asked whether there was a time requirement for possession suggests jurors were wrestling with how long [the] defendant had the gun.”
Garcia-Zarate remains in custody and is facing federal charges of gun possession and being in the country illegally. His attorney, Tony Serra, told The Associated Press that trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 13 and added that the appeals court reversal will give prosecutors the option to re-try Garcia-Zarate.
“That kind of error causes reversals all the time. Then the prosecution has the prerogative of going again,” Serra said. “The state case is a heavier case because it’s a homicide and a gun. … It’s going to be a big potential decision on what they’re going to do.” [Read More]